Monday, July 9, 2018

Album Review: Destinia - Metal Souls

There's a saying, "how can I miss you when you won't go away?" I find myself saying this about Ronnie Romero. I have nothing against the guy as a singer, but last year he made an album with The Ferrymen, and this year he has been on the new Rainbow single, plus albums by Lords Of Black, CoreLeone, and now Destinia. I'm sorry, but that's just too much of him in too short a time. I feel like I've barely had a chance to listen to his latest album when another one is coming down the pike. And while he's a good singer, he's not good enough to take up that much of my time.

Destinia is interesting because it promises to be the lightest and most melodic of the projects he's been involved with lately. To that end, I was interested, because what most annoys me is his insistence on singing with more grit than his voice actually has. He plays away from his strenghts as a singer, so he can take up the mantle of the new Dio (even though we all know that's Jorn).

"Metal Souls" is an album of pure melodic power metal, one that will never be confused with his usual heavier gigs. Every song has a big, lush chorus bursting with melody. It is easily the hookiest album Ronnie has ever been a part of, and that makes it easy for me to say it's also my favorite of them all.

While melodic, there's still enough crunch and heaviness to this record for almost anyone who enjoys non-extreme metal. The riffs are chunky at times, with the saturated guitar tone filling the sonic space to every corner. It's a big sound, and properly fits Ronnie's big vocals.

Song to song, these are highly melodic, and highly memorable songs. Whether it's the storming title track, or the emotional ballad "Take Me Home", the choruses and melodies in these songs will make an impact in your mind. Power metal has grown stale, and I haven't heard much in the traditional form done better than this in the last couple of years. You're never going to get surprised by anything on the record, but for following the rules, the songwriting is more than sharp enough to make this an engaging album.

My one issue with it is the same as every album Ronnie is on; him. Ronnie has immense capabilities as a singer, but his voice is too thin to sing with grit the way that Dio or Jorn can. Ronnie's cleaner tones are beautiful, but his 'angry' tone is too shrill when compared to the greats. Even in this more melodic setting, he insists on staying in that metal approach far too often, which undercuts the sugary appeal of these songs. Believe it or not, a really good singer brings these songs down a bit from where they could be. I can hardly make it through "Raise Your Fist" because the note Ronnie keep hitting, in that tone, sounds too much like an alarm bell.

The good news is the majority of "Metal Souls" is a very good melodic power metal album that does much of what The Dark Element did last year, just not quite at that level of excellence. I do wonder, though, if I would take this album even more positively if I wasn't in the midst of Ronnie Romero fatigue.

The bottom line is that Destinia has a winner here. This album is as good as power metal has been in 2018, and as good as Ronnie Romero has ever been. Whatever flaws there might be, they don't keep this from being a great album for a sunny summer day. "Metal Souls" is definitely worth a listen.

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